Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary – Where Magic Meets Feathers

What if we told you that a mesmerizing spectacle awaits when you step out from Optima Lakeview® and head up the lakefront? Don’t take our word for it: see for yourself when you swap city views for bird views at the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, an oasis of wildlife where magic meets feathers.

Often a whispering hub of excited bird watchers, Montrose Point is known endearingly as “The Magic Hedge.” It earned the nickname because a small stretch of low-lying bushes and trees within the sanctuary draws migrating songbirds and rarities. Over 300 species have been recorded, making this spot a birdwatcher’s dream come true!

Le Conte Sparrow
Le Conte Sparrow. Photo: K Schneider, Flickr Creative Commons

Settle in and you may spot the Le Conte’s Sparrow — one of North America’s smallest sparrow species — near the dripper on the meadow’s western edge. Or, you might catch sight of the elusive Northern Saw-whet owl amidst clumps of shorter trees and brush. And if you’re having a lucky day, you may see rare wintering gulls like the Black-Tailed Gull. And the list of possibilities goes on.

Entrance and stone walkway to Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. Photo: Chicago Parks District

Since 2001, Chicago has celebrated the sanctuary’s historical significance, when it was transformed into a haven for both birds and humans. You’ll notice recent additions, like a new stone walkway leading down to the beach or the water feature (“the dripper”) offering close-up views of the sanctuary’s winged residents.

Northern Saw-whet owl
Northern Saw-whet owl. Photo: Kameron Perensovich, Flickr Creative Commons

Without question, life at Optima Lakeview® is about exceptional urban living. But it’s also a celebration of the rich natural tapestry that surrounds us, and the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary is a testament to that beautiful balance. For more information, click here.

Friday Morning Swim Club

At Optima®, we’re always eager to spotlight activities that delight our residents, and today, we have something quirky and uniquely Chicago to share…just up the lakefront from Optima Lakeview®, a unique gathering takes place every summer Friday morning in the waters of Montrose Harbor — the Friday Morning Swim Club.

A refreshing immersion into community spirit, the Friday Morning Swim Club is a free, weekly gathering at the iconic Montrose Beach. Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just testing the waters, all are welcome. With its laid back atmosphere before the morning bustle sets in, the Club has become a haven for those who value authentic social connections, the profound simplicity of a morning swim, meaningful conversations, and 20-gallons of classic cold brew coffee.

The beauty of Montrose Harbor and its stunning lake views only enhance the allure of this once-a-week social gathering. Here, swimmers and coffee lovers alike congregate to start their day together. The best part? There’s room for everyone, whether you arrive solo or bring a group of friends.

Montrose Beach. Photo: YoChicago

The roots of Friday Morning Swim Club trace back to 2019-2021, when eight friends met at Montrose Beach on Friday mornings to shake off their days of isolation. Through word of mouth, larger crowds began to join, and within mere months, the club’s numbers began to surge. Today, more than 2,000 early birds routinely appear at 7:05 a.m, with elaborate floating devices, united by a love for community, activity, and Chicago’s distinct charm.

Without question, the club has carved out a niche for those who value togetherness and the deep satisfaction that comes from living simply. Arriving on foot or by bike is part of the full experience, encouraging folks to put away their phones, jump into the water, and be fully present in the moment. It’s more than just a club; it’s a testament to what makes Chicago special.

Whether you are on the lookout for a new adventure, want to meet exciting people, or simply crave a scheduled time to disconnect in the company of kindred souls, the Friday Morning Swim Club is ready to welcome you. So, grab your swimsuit and travel cup, donut shaped floaty and be part of something that is as invigorating as it is unique to our beautiful city.

Join Friday Morning Swim Club and experience a one of a kind adventure, details here.

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